Getting Your Teeth into Your Work
When I was a preteen, I had this dental problem with my premolars and molars coming in before my baby teeth were kind enough to get out of the way. While the babies were still firmly rooted, the new teeth pushed through. Right through, splitting several of the babies in half, where they eventually came out in fragments.
I feel a bit like that now, as a work on one project while another thrusts its way toward the surface. "Hold on!" I try to tell it. "Wait until I get this other guy out of your way!" But the new idea is so strong, so determined and exciting, it threaten to shatter my concentration on the current work in progress.
One way I've found to deal with this kind of distraction is in the creation of a "future file," where I speed-write a few notes and tuck them away to be sure I won't forget them. Only then will the "new teeth" quit aching and give me the peace I need to give my full attention to the toughest part of writing -- the completion of the already-contracted piece.
Even if you're not under contract, it's very important to learn the habit of finishing things. If you allow your subconscious to get away with distracting you into starting new project after new project, you'll never develop the discipline you need to complete your work by deadline.
Setting personal deadlines is another good work habit. Treat them as if they're real and make them a priority, because in the actual, limited-time world, only things we give the highest precedence get done.
So what are you doing to develop good work habits? And do you have any tips or tricks for keeping yourself on course?